If you’re struggling with type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, this article can help you. 

Exercise and diet are amongst the top ways to combat and even reverse diabetes.   

Close to 40 million Americans have diabetes; that’s about one in ten. Ninety to ninety-five percent of them have type 2 diabetes (referred to as T2D), making it the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.  

Having T2D means the body’s cells resist insulin. Insulin allows sugar, or glucose, to be used for energy. With T2D, the body can’t properly regulate sugar for fuel. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can lead to heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.  

Being sedentary and overweight are two risk factors for developing T2D. A study found exercising for 150 minutes a week decreased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. Those 60 and older lowered their risk by 71%. (1)

If you’re living with T2D, regular exercise can help put you back in control of your life.  

While pre-diabetic conditions can be reversed through lifestyle changes, there is no cure for T2D; however, maintaining a healthy diet, weight, and active lifestyle can help manage it.  

Exercise is the Best Medicine

This saying holds true for those diagnosed with T2D.   

Exercise reduces and regulates sugar levels and promotes healthy weight and blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of heart disease. Blood sugar can even be lowered up to 24 hours or more after exercise.  

The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week to help manage diabetes. This includes brisk walking and resistance training with light weights. 

A study showed combining aerobic and resistance training is the most effective for controlling glucose in type 2 diabetes. (2)  Resistance training improves insulin resistance, body mass index, blood pressure, and strength. Aerobic exercise improves heart health, blood sugar levels, and insulin sensitivity. 

When starting an exercise program, avoid high impact programs that are too hard or too long. 

The best place to start is building consistency and habits through safe and low-impact workouts. 

Tips for Staying Active

  • Set fitness goals
  • Build different activities into your daily routine, like walking or using resistance bands
  • Start slowly and allow for rest
  • Keep track of what you do and how you feel


(1) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/about-niddk/research-areas/diabetes/diabetes-prevention-program-dpp?dkrd=prspt1922#results

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846677/


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